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Relatives of Car Bomb Victim Wants U.S. to Indict Pinochet

By Joe Mathews
The Baltimore Sun

Relatives of Ronni Karpen Moffit, the New Jersey newlywed killed 22 years ago in a Washington, D.C., car bombing linked to the regime of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, have appealed to the Clinton administration to indict the former Chilean dictator for her murder.

The bomb that killed Ronni Moffit was meant for Orlando Letelier, who was Chile's ambassador to the United States in 1973 when Pinochet led a military coup that toppled President Salvador Allende.

Moffit's father, Murray Karpen, and her widower, Michael Moffit, both said they did not expect that the United States would ever be able to try Pinochet. But Michael Moffit said that, at the very least, an indictment here would make the dictator a prisoner in Chile.

"We want an indictment here to make sure he can never leave Chile again," said Moffit, 47, a money manager for a New York firm. "If he does, he'll know there's a U.S. warrant for him that can be enforced by Interpol."

Justice Department officials declined comment.

Moffit's request came this week as the 83-year-old Pinochet was being held in England on a Spanish warrant and the Labor Government considers a request to extradite the dictator to Spain. The slain American's relatives also have asked U.S. officials to assist Spanish authorities who want to prosecute the former Chilean dictator for killings he allegedly ordered against Spaniards.

"I think he should go to Spain in handcuffs," said Karpen, 70, a retired real estate salesman and deli owner in West Orange, N.J.. "I believe he should be brought to justice like any other murderer."

Moffit, who has remarried and lives near Princeton, said he had written Attorney General Janet Reno on Oct. 19, requesting a meeting. The request for a meeting was rebuffed, for now, by Assistant Attorney General James K. Robinson.

In a Nov. 23 letter to Moffit and his lawyer, Robinson asked the family for "any additional evidence" it had on the murder. Moffit called that statement insulting because, he believes, the government has ample evidence linking Pinochet to the killing. "I believe the government can do better than this," Moffit said.

But family members said they were heartened by Tuesday's announcement that the government will declassify some secret U.S. documents on Pinochet's regime. The CIA worked closely with Chile's secret police during the early and mid '70s, when thousands of that country's citizens were killed by their government.

After the 1973 Pinochet coup against Allende, Letelier quit his job as Chile's ambassador to Washington, sought asylum in the United States and became a leading critic of the new regime at the Institute for Policy Studies.